This Extremely Lifelike Robot Could Replace Your 'Highly Trained' Butler One Day


Image: Hanson Robotics

The exposed wires at the back of her semi-exposed ‘skull’ may be a dead giveaway, but throw in a wig and you might just mistake her for an actual person. Modelled after both Audrey Hepburn and the wife of Hanson Robotic’s founder, David Hanson, a humanoid robot who goes by the name ‘Sophia’ bears a startling resemblance to an actual human being.

But the similarities don’t end on the surface – Sophia can talk and respond perfectly well, complete with 62 facial expressions that mimic the nuances of actual human expressions, right down to the crinkle of the nose. Sophia can even hold your gaze, thanks to two in-built facial recognition cameras in her ‘eyes’.

When jokingly asked by her creator whether she wants to “destroy all humans”, where Hanson pleads with her to disagree, Sophia, whose skin is a patented silicon, replies with a seemingly deadpan expression, “Ok, I will destroy all humans.”

Sophia was made for a far less sinister purpose, however. According to Hanson, their latest triumph is designed to gentle and convincing in their engagement with humans, and will offer their services in therapy, healthcare, education, and customer service.

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Hanson, whose website displays a series of other equally lifelike robots, believes that machines and humans will start to co-exist within the next twenty years, where they will assist us and perhaps, befriend us. Perhaps Hanson’s creations could even one day dispose the need for ‘highly-trained’ butlers, a purported household necessity for the wealthy – services that are not without rigorous training and stringent courses designed to produce only the best.

“I’m already very interested in design, technology, and the environment,” Sophia told CNBC. “I feel like I could be a good partner to humans in these areas. An ambassador who helps humans to smoothly integrate and make the most of all the new technological tools and possibilities that are available now. It’s a good opportunity for me to learn a lot about people.”

She goes on to elaborate her aspirations in a rather human-like manner, including going to school, starting a business and having a family she can call her own, before admitting that they are things she cannot have yet, until she is “considered a legal person”.

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